I ran my first marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon, Oct. 17, 2010 in 4:43:51.
Here's the race report, originally posted at RunnersWorld.com (although the old forums are no longer).
First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who posted in the "Golden words for the first marathon" thread. There were four things I picked out and really focused on: watch your pace at the beginning; run the first 10 with your head, the second 10 with your legs, and the last 6.2 with your heart; thank the volunteers; and slap the little kids' hands. I figured if I could remember those four things, I'd be good.
Friday morning I went out for my very last run -- a very easy 3-miler to loosen my legs. I also started carb-loading that day, making spaghetti for lunch and dinner. Since Detroit is an international event, runners have to pick up their packets with their passports ahead of time, and I went to the expo Friday afternoon. My number had been randomly tagged for a Border Patrol screening! My first thought was OH NO, this is a bad sign! I've been to Canada in the last few months so I wasn't expecting a problem but it was still a relief when the agent checked my passport and info and gave me the all-clear. Whew!
Saturday my husband and I had a wedding to attend which, in retrospect, was great for my nerves because I had something to distract me. I actually ate my last spaghetti meal out of tupperware in the parking lot of the park where the wedding was -- lol! I didn't drink at the reception except for the champagne toast and we headed home on the early side. But I could NOT go to sleep! I'd had some coffee for the drive home and combined with nerves, I tossed and turned until at least 2 a.m., and kept waking up once I did fall asleep. I maybe got 2.5 hours of sleep and was worried that would affect the race.
I didn't know what to expect the day of, so I got up at 5 a.m. for my typical peanut butter and banana bagel, suited up, used the bathroom, etc. We live about a mile and a half from the race start, so I had my husband drive me as close as he could get (he came down and parked later). Looking back, I should have left later and used the bathroom one more time at home, but now I know for next time. I waited around for a good 45 minutes, used the port-o-potty, and tried to stay warm. We all filed into our corrals just before 7 a.m. (I was in I -- 4:45 finish time) and I tell you, when they sang Canada's and USA's national anthems, and I could look up and see the starting line -- I had goosebumps, it was so amazing! "This is what an athlete feels like," I thought. And then we were off! It took me about 15-20 minutes to cross the start line. It was frustrating that we had to slow down to cross the bridge into Canada -- I probably lost 5 minutes to walking or even standing and waiting. But once we were on the bridge, watching the sun rise from the bridge was very cool.
I tried to keep as steady of a 10:30 pace as I could, and I was doing well taking a water and then Gatorade at every aid station and taking two shot blocks every 5 miles or so. Canada was very nice -- my favorite parts were the giant inflatable Mountie police officer and beaver stationed on the course. Coming back through the tunnel was stale and hot, just like I'd expected, but some of the runners got a chant going between the rival Michigan universities (it *is* football season) so that was funny, at least. My husband was supposed to meet me as I exited the tunnel to trade my regular glasses for my sunglasses, but I didn't see him. We ran through the eastern edge of Mexicantown and back downtown and the half runners turned off. And there was my husband! We traded glasses and I gave him a sticky sweat-and-Gatorade kiss and I was off again. I also saw some very funny signs -- my favorite was "Chafe now, brag forever" followed closely by "Your feet hurt because you are kicking so much ass!".
This next part was probably the most boring, so I just turned my music up and tried to zone out. We ran through one of the historic east side neighborhoods, which was nice to see the houses, but there were very few spectators. Miles 20-22 or so were on Belle Isle (city island park), which some people hate, but since I live so close I do a lot of my training runs there -- so to me it felt like a home field advantage. Once I hit mile 21 I knew I could pick up my pace. I started skipping every other aid station and turned up my music louder. It was awesome passing the 22-mile sign -- that had been my longest training run. Miles 22 and 23 I picked it up a little more and actually started passing people! I kept telling myself, only five miles left, that's your regular morning run... three miles left, come on, that's a lap around your neighborhood... and it was working. I started to get emotional when I saw the 24 and 25 mile signs but I told myself, pull it together, you can't be crying in your official photo! Lol. Down the river and into downtown, and the final turn with the finish line up ahead! I ran as hard as I could, saw my husband and waved for a picture, and crossed the finish line strong with my arms up!!! My official time was 4:43:51.
We headed home right away, mostly because I needed a bathroom and none of the port-o-potties had paper left, lol, and I showered and ate every bite of an omelette and hash browns brunch. I took a 2.5 hour nap and it was glorious. Later we went for a barbecue dinner and I ordered a half chicken and half slab of ribs with two sides. First the guy who brought our food tried to give me my husband's sandwich, and then the guy at the table next to us said to me, "What's a little girl like you going to do with all that food?" I said, "I ran a marathon today!" I didn't eat it all but I made a good dent. I am feeling a little sore and slow today, especially up and down stairs, but nothing too bad. My knees and ankles are fine, but my hips are a bit sore, my hamstrings are tight, and I have a few random blisters on my foot, which I usually don't get.
Overall, an amazing experience. I had an absolute blast, never doubted myself once I got going, never had to walk, never regretted it, and finished strong and under my goal time. I would absolutely do another one!